Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Carbondale's Outdoor Pool

I was talking to Bill Price (coach of the Saluki Swim team) about the new pool initiative the other day and he asked why I had written against it in my blog. I think we agree that a $6M price tag, with a water park, is a crazy amount of money that makes no sense in Carbondale.

Bill asked me why people thought there would be a racial problem at the new pool. I pointed to the Boys and Girl's Club in Carbondale (I'm a big financial supporter), it is all black. Those kids need the club more and also they drive all the white kids out. There is a really good chance that kind of racial problems will occur at the pool too.

The great thing about talking to a real professional and knowledgeable person is you start getting educated on how things will really work. Bill started talking about what programs would grow and thrive if there was an outdoor pool in Carbondale. Because Bill is less wordy then I am, I'll enhance what he said with some logical assumptions.

The kinds of programs that would go on in a outdoor pool in Carbondale are a Summer swim team, water aerobics, and master's swim team. I'm sure there are more uses, but can't come up with them right now. If you have ever examined a public swimming pool's schedule, the "free swim" time is very, very small. The mental image from Caddy Shack and the caddies going to the pool just isn't allowed much, because there are adults running programs in the pool most all the time.

I'm still very much against a $6M pool and a $250k to $500k operational loss every year. I don't like the Carbondale Park District (or their slag name, the Carbondale Pork District), they run their other assets poorly. But, an outdoor pool would allow Carbondale a venue for many positive workout and sport opportunities. If the organizers weren't so darn stupid about the message they are sending to the public and were sensitive about the tax payer's concerns (price and how to handle the racial problems that are going to come with it), an outdoor pool might get built.

You are allowed to point out there are racial problems in Carbondale aren't you?

Your comments are always welcome.


Jonathan Bean said...

The race thing seems crazy to me. Marion is racially mixed -- they have a pool. Other, less "diverse," small towns also have pools (e.g., Chester) and I have seen black kids there with no problems.

How can Cdale have racial problems; all the liberals live here. Hmmmm.

Reminds me of the "Old Christine/New Christine" TV show: The crusading diversity-crazed liberal character (Old Christine) acts like a racist but doesn't see it when pointed out to her by her black girlfriend and ex-husband. She replies:

"How can I be a racist? I drive a Prius!"

I'm not sure I'm sold on a pool for the same reasons you are not: the CPD would run it.

Peter in Carbondale said...

I went and looked Marion schools are 8% black and Carbondale Middle School 51% black. I went and looked, Carbondale High School is 28% black. Wow, that is odd. I guess the white flight out of District 95 really is true.

You have to wonder if the black kids in Marion are excluded from activities because of skin color.

http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/il/other/2775 - Marion link
http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/il/other/795 - District 95 Middle School
http://www.greatschools.net/cgi-bin/il/other/800 - Carbondale High School

Jonathan Bean said...

Yes, but Marion must have created its pool several decades ago, at a time when Cdale was less minority-dominated and Carterville was just fields.

District 95 is doing the best to destroy education for kids, most of whom happen to be black. Alas, we were told by the older faculty that District 95 was great. Yeah, right, 35 years ago! We have had nothing but bad experiences and to deal with discipline the condition are like a prison (K-6 children line up and hug themselves so they don't touch others). Add a dumbed-down curriculum and you know why people are voting with their feet.

I'd love to get county data comparing Jackson and Wmson county since 1970.

nobody said...

Off topic a little, but still along the lines of value-for-money... the electricity rates for on-peak usage are going up, and the best plan so far has been using eminent domain on the wires and running the electric grid as a city service.

$6,000,000 would buy somewhere around one megawatt of solar power generation. It would reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we use by some tons per year, and excess could be sold at the on-peak rate of $0.10 per kilowatt/hour. Local businesses could be engaged to produce a solar power plant. Jobs would be created.

Only a small group of people would benefit from a pool, however well connected they are.

Almost everyone in the community uses electricity but i am sure that a swimming pool will remain the popular issue, while we gird ourselves to buy the most expensive nuclear power in the midwest...from out-of-town big-box providers... & at a higher cost than local renewable energy.

Anonymous said...

Looking for county data to compare Jackson and Williamson County? Try http://censtats.census.gov/usa/usa.shtml
Select Population - Total and Selected Characteristics and search for a county in the box under Search Area Name.

dave said...

Carbondale's "racial problem" is mirrored in the society. Hip-hop, materialistic culture. Everywhere. The data doesn't lie.

About the pool idea, I offer some Deeper thoughts" in my ShawneeNet portal blog.

snorkel, snorkel. ;-)

Anonymous said...

Racial problems will occur and must be handled appropriately.
Letting anyone one group of any commonality take over in a public
supported facility is wrong.

The study group make up is a joke.
Anyone with an opinion could be in the group. It really does not have anyone who is knowledgable about public pools who does not have an agenda to go with their knowledge. It also has well intentioned community members who will not be in a position to contribute one penny to the project only opinions.
Like any group when allowed to dream up a plan that is what they do dream up a plan and then set a price. Rather there should have been a set price that realistically could be investd in a pool and then a plan set for the facility.
The pool should be a private investment ran by a business, this avoid unneccessary expenses and will lesson any racial issues.
The Park District cannot handle what it is doing now.

alice said...

I grew up in a subdivision of about 1000 homes in Ohio. A middle-class subdivision with it's own pool (actually ,there are now 3 pools--a baby pool, a lap pool and an L-shaped pool--all shared one bath house). I don't know the cost to build the pool originally around 1970 (when there were not yet anywhere near 1000 homes--our home was number 158--probably about 450 were built by then) but the current household assessment is $140 per year (this includes grounds maintenance for several playgrounds, soccer fields and green spaces scattered around the community, community events like parades, monthly newspaper, and the pools). $140 may seem alot to some but it is about what many in Carbondale pay yearly for the library tax. (Not that a library should be compared to a pool). The pool is open for swim lessons in the morning and open swim for everyone from 11-8 seven days a week in the summer. I have been to several pools in Southern Illinois and have been surprised how few hours they are open for public swimming.
I don't know what a reasonable priced tag for Carbondale should be, but the purposed plan seems beyond Carbondale's
reach. I don't know about racial tensions but I wouldn't be surprised about generational tensions--case in point, in the subdivision I grew up in,
many people are now complaining about paying the assessment because the neighborhood is increasingly composed of older people and older people don't want a pool. What is the ratio of young people to older people in Carbondale? I think this may become a problem as it has in many places across the country.
I think a better idea is a water-play area in Attucks park. I have seen these in many cities with very racially diverse participation. Water either squirts up from holes in the ground or sprays down from a series of pipes overhead (my kids like the overhead pipes best). It is then recirculated. The area is fenced in with high fences to prevent vandalism and there are paid attendants--usually older women. Best of all--no admission! Attucks has the space for this and there is nothing like a sprinkler in summer to cool off! And it is much cheaper than a pool. That side of town has been greatly ignored by city planners.
I don't think Carbondale needs a swim team. Any child who wants to be on a team can try out for the Saluki Swim team.
Personally, I would love an outdoor pool but, financially, it sounds very irresponsible. What exactly is wrong with the indoor pool? Hardly anyone uses it. (It, too, has limited hours).
It is hard to imagine there is such a demand for an outdoor pool if no one uses the indoor pool. If you really wanted to swim, you would go to the Life Center even if it wasn't ideal.